I've pointed out positive and negative advertising before on this blog. Maybe it is because I work in advertising that I notice these things like I do? Personally, I blame my college advertising 101 teacher who made us sit through commercials and write about them. Once you have been forced to deconstruct a few hundred Super Bowl ads, you will never watch television the same way again.
I've seen a commercial on television several times recently that I really like. I think it's a perfect example of how advertising can send a positive message.
I looked all over the 'Net but could not find a video for this ad. I did find a screen shot, so if you have seen it, you might recognize the photo. From what I can tell, this ad came out in 2003, but I've only seen it recently. It is from Canada, and it has won quite a few awards.
I love it's simplicity. As simple as it seems, it really packs a punch! The ad focuses on mental/controlling/verbal abuse in relationships, an issue that I've always had very strong feelings about. I've seen several lovely women get caught and sadly, lost in the quicksand of domestic abuse.
So many women assume that because they are not being physically abused, it isn't as bad, when in fact, it is in many ways worse.
Verbal abuse seems to last a lot longer and seems to be easier for otherwise intelligent women to make excuses for it. For those women it seems to take years for it to finally escalate to a point of physical violence and then they are forced to do something about it, but by that point the damage is permanent. They are mentally broken, any children they have are internally scarred, and a lot of their personal and familial relationships are long gone and destroyed because they wasted so many years making excuses for their abuses and finally people had to walk away because they could not take the pain of knowing them any longer. People who live in these situations are constantly surrounded by fall out. To try to be close to a person in this situation is nearly as difficult as being in the situation, because you can't speak reason to them and if you put your foot down and make tough choices to try to help them, they inevitably think you have somehow turned on them and they lash out on you with all of their pent up fury that should be directed at their abuser, but they don't feel safe directing it that direction. It is one of the worst kinds of tragedy.
For those of you who have not seen the commercial, it goes something like this. You enter a wedding in progress. For a minute you think you are watching a David's Bridal commercial, or some kind of jewelry commercial, anything along those lines. Then you get closer and you can hear what the bride is saying. She is looking at her husband to be and vowing to make excuses for him when he treats her badly, when he isolates her from her friends and family, when their children are hurt by their constant fighting, hide the bruises when he eventually starts to physically abuse her, etc.
I think it is so powerful because it is so simple and catches you off guard. I will post it on here if I ever find an online version of it. I think it is a perfect example of a strong campaign for something like this.
I like it better than the overly obvious campaigns with the bruises and black eyes, or the secretly crying children. Not that those things are not effective, but because I've seen women in the deep throws of denial in these situations and I firmly believe they would never think that their situation is that bad. In fact, I feel those kinds of images would have the opposite effect. Those women would think, "Well at least my situation is that bad." and use it as just another way to make excuses to themselves for the abusers they think they are in love with.